Stargazing Dog

Takashi Murakami. NBM (www.nbmpub.com), $11.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-56163-612-9
In this heart-wrenching literary manga winner of several awards in Japan a pathetic middle-aged man goes on an ill-fated road trip with his dog, as told from the dog’s point of view. In the second half, a not-quite-as-pathetic middle-aged social worker investigates their fate. Just when it seems the story couldn’t get any more heart-breaking, the social worker remembers his childhood pet dog with deep regrets. The unnamed, unemployed protagonist seems to be a victim of the deep recession(s) of our times. A divorce follows his job loss, and he pawns most of his belongings for the dog’s veterinary bill. Murakami not to be confused with the Superflat artist of the same name draws detailed, naturalistic background art reminiscent of Jiro Taniguchi (Walking Man), only grittier. The short book offers some profound insight on the human condition (by way of the canine condition) without being too sweet or sappy although naming the dog “Happiness” is heavy-handed. The choice to tell the first story from the dog’s point of view is borderline saccharine, but without all the cute dogs, this book might be unbearable. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/24/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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